How Attorney-Client Privilege Works In Texas Personal Injury Cases
In a lawsuit, we're after the truth. And to that end, just about every conversation about the accident and its aftermath is fair game. We want to know especially what the participants in the accident have said. Imagine this scenario: Bob, a defendant in a car accident case, tells a woman that the car accident was his fault, that he ran a red light, and that he felt really badly about it. That conversation, if it came to light, would blow the case wide open. But it won't come to light. Why? The woman Bob was speaking with was his lawyer.
Questions answered on this page
- Are conversations between attorneys and clients protected?
- Is what I say to an attorney considered confidential?
- How can attorney help me with my personal injury case?
Why attorney-client conversations should be private
Conversations between attorneys and their clients are considered sacred. For hundreds of years, courts have recognized that it's extremely important for lawyers and their clients to be able to speak freely with each other without fear that their communications will become part of the public record. This is not because attorneys are special, but because clients should be allowed to get the full benefit of their attorney's counsel.
A common example is in the criminal law context: the client should feel free to admit to his attorney that, yes, he did commit the crime. Why? So the attorney will know what he's dealing with an can advise the client accordingly.
There's an obvious tension present in this: since lawsuits are ultimately about discovering the truth, and we're suppressing it when it comes to legal communications. But courts decided long ago that the tie goes to the client's need to have the most clear and complete advice from his lawyer.
In personal injury cases, your attorney needs to protect your confidential information.
Just like any other right you have, it isn't automatically enforced. In the discovery process, the opposing side will invariably asks for emails, text messages, and communications about your injury. Naturally, you will have some materials in your possession like this that are communications with your attorney. A thorough attorney will be willing to go to the courthouse and argue to a judge that the other side is not entitled to any attorney-client information. You might be surprised how many attorneys don't even bother to do this.
Another reason why your attorney needs to protect the communications with him is similar to what we discussed above. You and your attorney should have full and open communications about your case. YOU should be allowed to tell your lawyer "bad facts" about your case so that your attorney can work to mitigate them. Let's use the car accident scenario again, but this time, while you are 100% sure that the other drive was at fault, you also know that you'd had a drink in the hours prior to the incident. If you try to hide that from your lawyer, then your lawyer can't advise you on how best to answer the inevitable questions you'll receive in the litigation process.
Your conversation would go like this:
- Client: "I haven't told you this, but I had a beer that night. I'm afraid I was drunk."
- Attorney: "That's ok. But if the beer was a normal beer, then there's effectively no way you were intoxicated. If asked by the other lawyer whether you were drunk, I think you should say 'no.'"
- Client: "Great! So, since I told you that I had a beer, now I don't have to tell the other lawyer that if he asks me in court, right?"
- Attorney: "Not exactly. We can't hide facts. If you're asked if you had any alcohol that evening, you MUST tell them that you had a beer. However, you don't have to tell them about this conversation."
After this, a thorough attorney could prepare for the defense that his client had had one beer by hiring a toxicologist or putting on some scientific research that shows how one drink does not truly impact a person's reaction time. Further, now the client feels better because he has good advice about how to testify. But notice, just because you told your attorney something, that doesn't make it necessarily protected information.
The Personal Injury Attorneys At Grossman Law Offices Can Help.
If you need advice from an attorney on your personal injury case, call the experienced attorneys at Grossman Law Offices in Dallas, TX at (855) 326-0000 for a confidential conversation. We're here for you, 24/7.
Related Articles for Further Reading:
- How Do Depositions Work?
- Understanding How Modified Comparative Fault Works
- How Do I Recover Compensation for Mental Anguish?